Ignoring renewable energy

Re: Hydro deals cost us billions

As the Official Opposition’s critic for BC Hydro, I’d like to offer some perspective from the other side of this important debate.

Independent power projects have been around since the 1980s. They existed through the NDP’s period in office in the 1990s, as well as during the BC Liberals’ time in government from 2001-2017, through to today.

This report commissioned by Energy Minister Michelle Mungall misinterprets what our former government was trying to achieve with IPPs. British Columbians were looking for B.C. to be energy self-sufficient, so we had to look at areas like wind, solar and run-of-river projects. Yes, these independent clean-energy projects are more expensive than gas-fired power plants or coal, at about $100 per megawatt hour — but that is the trade-off necessary to ensure B.C. is 98 per cent powered by renewable energy.

Despite this fact, Minister Mungall has publicly stated that energy needs to be purchased at market rates of $25 per megawatt hour. That makes the minister’s Clean Energy Plan impossible to achieve. It’s clear Mungall did not consult her cabinet colleague before making these contradictory remarks.

Meanwhile, the clean power industry has attracted more than $8.6 billion in investment and established valuable partnerships with local communities and First Nations. With jobs and prosperity on the line for them, the minister should reveal what the path forward will be.

She should also reveal the tender process for the report on IPPs that she commissioned, given that its author worked for the NDP government in the 1990s.

B.C. currently has the fifth lowest rates in North America, thanks to investments made by our former government, but our system is aging and our population is growing. This means we need to invest more than $2 billion per year in new and upgraded infrastructure. But the NDP is now delaying $2.7 billion in investments and upgrades, including the Revelstoke Unit 6 dam improvement, which would have generated 436 person-years’ worth of total employment. Deferring capital investment means British Columbians will pay the price in the future.

Greg Kyllo, Shuswap MLA

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